Adam Snelling: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Adam Snelling General Manager and Sake Sommelier for Japanese fusion restaurant Ki Modern Japanese + Bar in Calgary. A testament to his exceptional work ethic, he’s currently learning Japanese on top of running one of the country’s most reputable restaurant brands…

Elevator pitch; describe your job in a nutshell.
I have my dream job. I operate a high-end Japanese fusion restaurant that offers amazing products supported by a great staff.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I was offered the chance to work for one of the best restaurateurs in Canada and I jumped at the opportunity.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? What is the most challenging part?
The best part about my job is helping my staff to create an amazing and memorable experience for our guests. The most challenging part is keeping them focused on the bigger picture, which needs constant attention.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
When you realize you don’t look forward to going to work everyday, then you know something is wrong. I love coming into work each and every day. I show my team respect and humility because I want them to also love coming into work and to be inspired. When they are doing their best, it is a reflection of what we can achieve as a team. But I can’t create that positive work environment if I am burnt out. Ultimately, you have to find a balance between your life and your career so that you have the energy and motivation to perform at your best.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I hope to be recognized as one of the leading sake experts in Canada. I have really grown to love sake, and so promoting and teaching people about it to better integrate it into our culture would be amazing.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge has been trying to get Calgary to fall in love with sake. This has taken patience, humility, and resourcefulness. If you just focus on the sake then people are not convinced to try it. The trick is to connect with guests first, and once I’ve established that relationship I can introduce them to a new cultural experience that they’ll really understand and appreciate. 

What does success look like to you? Does money = happiness?
Success for me is all about needing for nothing and loving what you have. Money can help relieve stress, but it usually causes bad decision-making. When you make decisions based just on money, instead of what the best option for you and your family is, then you’ve probably made the wrong choice.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
The time I served Maya Angelou in Ottawa.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Don’t focus on your strengths, instead focus on your weaknesses. Find a mentor who has courage and integrity. Never speak ill of others and finally, always remember that loyalty is the most valuable quality.

Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
I love going to Divino. I used to work with some of the team there and they are so passionate, creative, and humble – how can you not love that combination? Oh, and they make a great Manhattan.

What you’re not working how do you love to spend you “Me” time?
When not working I spend my time with my family, reading, and exercising. A healthy heart, mind, and body can lead to amazing opportunities.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
Italy, because its Italy.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
“I’m going down” by Bruce Springsteen.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I would be teaching. If you are a teaching at heart, which I would say I am, then no matter what you do, you are teaching.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I support the Ronald McDonald House of Southern Alberta. Any charity that focuses not only on treating the illness but also on helping the family is very dear to me.

What to you is notable?
Having the opportunity to engage in an honest exchange of ideas.

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You can follow Adam on Twitter @AdamSakeCalgary


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